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Why did the Arizona Coyotes seek out ASU and the East Valley?

Traffic and relationships with public entities are among the reasons for the shift.

NCAA Football: Sun Devil Stadium Aerials
Pictured: Sun Devil Stadium, which is approximately a mile from the new arena site.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In what is probably the worst kept secret in Valley sports, the Arizona Coyotes are getting a new arena.

IceArizona officially confirmed on Monday morning that the Coyotes have partnered with Arizona State University to develop a new 16,000+ seat arena on the Northwest corner of McClintock Drive and Rio Solado Parkway in Tempe, on top of a site currently occupied by ASU’s Karsten Golf Course.

Here’s a look at the site as it exists now:

Site of new Coyotes arena

And here is where the site is compared to the Coyotes’ current home in Glendale:

Gila River Arena vs. New Site

The new venue is located within a mile of two major Valley arteries - the Loop 101 and Loop 202 freeways, and is approximately one mile away from the main campus of Arizona State University. The hope is that this site would allow most Valley residents to bypass the Downtown I-10 corridor (shown on the above map in yellow and red), which can make the commute from the East Valley to the West Valley exceed an hour or more in peak rush-hour conditions.

As part of the agreement, Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports reported that the Coyotes would have until June 30th, 2017 to receive political, financial, and architectural requirements satisfied. As to whether or not the agreement will require public financing, CEO Anthony LeBlanc sounded noncommittal:

“We’re not looking for general funds from any governmental organization, but we need to form a very strong partnership with the State of Arizona and the City of Tempe. We also have to work with a variety of stakeholder groups such as Goldwater Institute and others so they understand what it is we’re trying to do. These projects have a process.”

Arizona State University already has an Athletic Facilities District, which this development would be a part of. It remains to be seen if additional public financing would be needed.

The move is primarily geared to allow the Coyotes to play in the East Valley, where the majority of their existing fanbase already resides. It also allows the team to leave the political machinations of the Glendale City Council behind.

IceArizona/ASU are also expected to construct a supplemental 4,000 seat arena nearby for use by ASU’s NCAA Hockey team, to replace the significantly smaller Oceanside Ice Arena.

We will have more on this story as it develops.